One-to-one laptop initiative to be implemented late 2018-19 school year

Blue Valley Board of Education members unanimously voted to implement a one-to-one laptop initiative during the late 2018-19 school year. Every high schooler is to be given an Apple Macbook, and each middle schooler a Google Chromebook.


Ellen Bruce

Board member Mike Seitz adjourns meeting in which the voting on the one to one laptop recommendation took place.

Anna Cowden and Ethan Knauth

Blue Valley Board of Education members unanimously (5-0) voted to implement a one-to-one laptop recommendation made by Blue Valley Director of Blended Learning Brad Moser and Blue Valley Chief Information Officer Brian Daley.

The recommendation recommends each BV high school student receive an Apple Macbook Air, and each middle schooler a Google Chromebook. Moser said the recommendation is based on the results of a beta test conducted in 2017-18 school year.

The beta test gave four teachers in all five BV high schools Google Chromebooks or Apple Macbook Airs to evaluate how classroom instruction would change with more devices. Aubry Bend Middle School served as the “stress test” to evaluate whether the school’s Wi-Fi was able to withstand more activity.

Moser said the beta test passed with flying colors.

The one-to-one initiative will cost the district around eight million dollars to purchase and keep the devices in use, and the district has already allocated four and a half million dollars in the budget to cover the cost of maintaining devices, according to Moser.

President of the Blue Valley Board of Education Stacy Obringer-Varhall said the initiative is imperative to begin because students need to receive a “blended learning” experience. Obringer-Varhall said “blended learning” combines both education through the traditional lecture-style teaching and technology-based learning.

“These days there is so much innovation available at your fingertips in the way of devices, and that’s how kids are learning,” Obringer-Varhall said. “We have a lot of different types of learners and some of them can’t do old-school lectures. It’s really important for the personalized learning of each student.”

BVNW principal Amy Murphy told BVNWnews prior to the board’s vote she hoped the initiative would be passed, and she wants to continue to move forward with “blended learning.”

“We know you can’t just stick somebody in front of a computer and let them do the whole teaching,” Murphy said. “We’re not going to a virtual situation where everything’s on computer. We’re not letting the technology drive what we’re doing, we’re letting best practice drive what we’re doing and we’re infusing technology to enhance what we do instructionally.”

To give teachers adequate prep time with the new devices, Moser said he recommended teachers receive prep for the new devices during the first semester of the upcoming school year.

[I want to] give them time to prepare and make sure they’re ready, give them some instructions, or at least some professional learning around classroom management, Moser said.”

Students would be able to take the devices home with them according to Obringer-Varhall. They would also receive the added benefit of being able to take the devices home over the summer, with the students only having to turn in their devices when they graduate to the next school.

Despite getting a late start in the race to infuse technology into the daily life of a student, Obringer-Varhall believes the district will be better equipped when introducing the one-to-one laptop recommendation.

“Some of our neighboring school districts rolled this out a little quicker than we did, but they rolled it out without a lot of the preparation and training for teachers ahead of time to really make it effective,” Obringer-Varhall said. “I feel like this is the right time for us to roll out one-to-one devices for our kids in middle and high school, and I think the students will find it very helpful and productive.”